Above: Camryn Snell and Jailan Williams, students in the College’s Graduate Certificate Program in Arts and Cultural Management, are serving in the new Charleston Symphony Inclusion Fellows program. (Photo by Heather Moran)

Music is a universal language that connects people from different cultures. And the newly created Charleston Symphony Inclusion Fellowship (CSIF) helps broaden the conversation by extending the reach of classical music. The fellowship, which was developed with support from the College of Charleston, offers immersive personal and professional development for future nonprofit arts leaders from backgrounds traditionally underrepresented in the field of classical music.

The Charleston Symphony carefully curated this program with leadership from its associate conductor, Kellen Gray, and executive director, Michael Smith, in partnership with Rénard Harris, the College’s chief diversity officer and vice president of access and inclusion, and CofC’s Graduate Certificate Program in Arts and Cultural Management, then led by Karen Chandler, associate professor of arts management.

The CSIF is offered to graduate students currently enrolled in the College’s arts and cultural management program pursuing the certificate only, a certificate with an M.P.A., a certificate with an M.F.A. or the certificate with another College of Charleston graduate degree. The salaried one-year fellowship can be renewed for a second year. More information about the fellowship is featured on the arts management graduate school website and on the Charleston Symphony website.

“The CSIF will be transformative in the classical music industry,” says Chandler. “This is a groundbreaking program that will create a pipeline for talented, underrepresented artists and arts managers. It’s the epitome of a great partnership.”

Harris adds that the fellowship is a win-win as the members of the symphony are looking through the lens of sound to articulate diversity, equity and inclusion and make community connections. Kate Keeney, director of the arts management program and assistant professor, is also grateful to the Charleston Symphony for providing such meaningful opportunities to CofC students. She appreciates that the symphony is interested in hearing from new voices and integrating ideas from the fellows to advance inclusive practices in classical music.

And the inaugural fellows represent the epitome of what it means to broaden the conversation. Their passion for classical music makes Camryn Snell ’20 and Jailan Williams ’21 the perfect CSIF fellows.

Snell majored in political science and is pursuing her M.P.A. from the College along with a graduate certificate in arts and cultural management, a combination she says will help her better understand the operations and specific needs of nonprofit organizations.

“Through the CSIF, I hope to be able to set the stage for other young Black artists and arts administrators to feel not only welcome at the Charleston Symphony, but like they truly belong there,” says Snell, whose work with the symphony will focus on internal relations.

Williams graduated with a bachelor’s in arts management with a concentration in the music industry and a minor in music.

“I love the feeling of not only creating great music, but also seeing other people feel something because of the music they’re listening to, whether it’s happiness, the urge to get up and dance, sadness or other emotions,” says Williams, the symphony’s first external relations fellow. “It’s a big reason why I’m going into music, to inspire people and leave a legacy.”

He adds, “It is imperative that we – as advocates, fans and performers of classical music – address and break down the racial barriers that have been a detriment to the recognition and advancement of classical music.”